Nov 06, 2012 09:26 PM EST

Ding Dong: Bell-Ringer Gets Tangled in Bells

A church bell-ringer became entangled by the very bells he rings regularly and had to be rescued by fire crews in a belfry and sent to the Royal United Hospital in Bath with a pelvic injury and heavy bruising.

In the tower of St Nicholas Church, Bathampton, near Bath, Somerset on Monday night, 58 year-old bell-ringer Helen Springthorpe became entangled by bells and was knocked unconscious with a hit to her head on the belfry wall. She was hit during regular bell-ringing rehearsals.

She had been on the jobs for three months thus far and found herself "thrown around the belfry" after tripping and becoming "entangled in a bell ringing rope".

Twenty firemen and paramedics had to come to her rescue.

"I don't really remember very much about it," said the mother-of-one.
"The other bell ringers all had a go because I am new. I have only been doing it for three months and I am learning.
"I was having a go with one other person showing me how it is done."
"I tripped and hit my head on the wall
"I don't recall much more, and next thing I know I open my eyes and there are paramedics looking at me. I'm still trying to get myself together now. I remember lots of people around.
"The bell tower was full of firefighters and paramedics. It was an amazing sight."
She continued: "I remember being strapped to a stretcher and lowered through the trap door, seeing all the plaques on the wall in the church as I was lowered down."
Her 30 year-old daughter learned about what had happened in the local press, and "laughed very hard when I told her about it".
The rescue took more than an hour.
The tower captain, Peter Powell, 79, explained: "Helen was just taking her first pull of the evening and she changed hands, and pulled the rope off the stay and it went all right for the first stroke, then all of a sudden she just lost the rope and it went all round her and she collapsed on the floor.
"It all happened so quickly. Whether she fell off the box at the same time or what, we can't say.
"Everybody was just sitting around very worried, not quite knowing what to do, but left the two that did know what they were doing to carry on."
Mr Powell, who lives in the village, expressed: "I do care. She was learning to ring, had just started, and then this happened."
The church's Rev Paul Burden stated: "It's not nice when it happens and it's a reminder that bell-ringing is a very skilled hobby and there needs to be careful training on it."
A spokesman for Avon Fire and Rescue Service said Mrs Springthorpe was fortunate to be rescued and not seriously injured after being ''thrown around the belfry for a bit before landing awkwardly''.
He elaborate that: ''Fire crews were alerted by the ambulance service, who had administered morphine and made her comfortable while awaiting rescue.
''Special rope rescue lines and equipment, including a stretcher, were used.
''A section of the bell-ringing gallery floor was lifted up and the woman was then safely lowered about 20ft to the ground, where she was taken into the care of ambulance staff who took her to hospital with a suspected pelvic injury.''

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